Georgia Additional Penalties for Sex Crimes to Fund Services for Sexually Exploited Children
On November 8th voters will be asked to approve Amendment 2, creating the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund. A “yes” vote supports providing penalties for court cases involving certain sex crimes in order to allocate the generated revenue for the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund.
A “no” vote opposes providing penalties for court cases involving certain sex crimes in order to allocate the generated revenue for the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children Fund.
Wellspring Living supports the “yes” position on this ballot initiative.
Amendment Overview (excerpted from Ballotpedia.com)
Amendment 2 was designed to trigger the implementation of Senate Resolution 7 and allow the state legislature to provide for additional penalties or fees to a court case in which a person is found guilty “of keeping a place of prostitution, pimping, pandering, pandering by compulsion, solicitation of sodomy, masturbation for hire, trafficking of persons for sexual servitude, or sexual exploitation of children.” It would also allow the legislature to impose assessments on adult entertainment establishments. Revenue from these penalties, fees, and assessments would be allocated to the Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited Children fund.
Is child sex trafficking really a significant problem in our state?
Yes. Every year in Georgia, hundreds of Georgia’s children become victims of child trafficking. They come from every part of our state – as many as 102 counties have referred young victims for assistance. These children are from neighborhoods like yours, from every demographic, family situation and income level. While their stories may differ, they have all been targeted, sexually abused and exploited.
How will the Safe Harbor Fund help victims of child trafficking?
The Safe Harbor Fund will provide an estimated $2 million annually for restorative services such as safe housing, trauma counseling and medical treatment. These children are often suffering from physical abuse, malnutrition, suicidal thoughts and intense shame and guilt. This fund will ensure that innocent young victims receive the help they need to rebuild their lives and reduce their chance of being victimized again.
Where will the money come from?
Funding for Safe Harbor will come from two narrowly tailored sources identified by the General Assembly: new fines for those convicted of crimes related to sex trafficking and a new fee on the adult entertainment industry, specifically on establishments that serve alcohol and provide entertainment involving nudity.
Why do we need a constitutional amendment to create the Safe Harbor Fund?
In Georgia, the only way state funds can be dedicated to a particular purpose is with voter approval of a constitutional amendment, which is what will be on the ballot on November 8th. This protects the funds in the Safe Harbor fund for being used for any other purpose.
How will the funds be distributed?
Agencies, faith-based organizations and non-profits that provide services to child victims of sex trafficking will be able to apply for funds. A new commission, appointed by the General Assembly and the Governor, will develop guidelines and oversee the distribution of monies to ensure they are used where they can have the greatest impact.